Friday, May 15, 2015

What's New, Hampshire? 5-10-2015

Our Mother's Day plans were to take Andrea's Mum to the New Hamster Sheep and Wool Festival and meet my kid and her kids there. Everybody bailed on us. So we went on our own. We always enjoy fondling yarn and seeing alpacas that look like Q-tips.

While eating our apple crisp on the fairgrounds, my mammal #6 for the year, an American Red Squirrel, bounded along behind me. He stood up and looked cute long enough for me to get this shot.
American Red Squirrel Mammal #6

The temps had climbed super-high by noon and when we left the Fest, it was into the 90s. On a whim, we decided to drive over a few miles and look for Bear Brook State Park to see what joys it held. It wasn't quite as close as we thought and it was $4 per person to go in, but the brook itself looked great and we headed in.

It was tough to get to the brook but it was a lovely walk through the shaded woods. We didn't, however see many herps. In fact, our sole animal was this Redback.

We spent about an hour and a half walking trails and then went to the park's money-taker in the parking lot and said what we were looking for. Ponds with frogs and snakes and turtles and stuff. She pointed us in the right direction (the one I wanted to go in in the first place) and we found the first pond. There were guys fly-fishing there, but no herps. But the pond drained into a brook that was just on the other side of a small hill. We explored.

We saw a small salamandery thing on a rock in the water. I couldn't figure out what it was. But then, we started to see a lot... they were Spotted Newts and they were gettin' jiggy wid it!

I scooped up one and he showed me his package. Yep... that's breeding-season, male newt junk.

There were dozens; a few couples and many males looking for a love connection.
^Nice tail!

These two were engaged the entire half hour that we were there watching the orgy. Looks like a neck-job to me.

One guy kept swimming against the current coming through the spill-pipe (with arms and legs back like a Gator), relaxing and floating backwards, then swimming forward again. It was pretty funny.

We moved deeper into the place, to the campgrounds. A very friendly guy working there suggested we take a walk near the pond and we did just that. There was an overflowing puddle that was filled with small, black tadpoles... probably Wood Frogs.

There were also a few small Bullfrogs enjoying the puddle.

But what we really wanted to do was head back to Massachusetts, to Essex County once again, and take a walk along a rail trail in Methuen where we saw 21 Garters in about 2 hours last year. So that's just what we did. But we got some pizza first.

We got to Methuen at about 5 PM but it was still in the high 80s. No problem. We almost immediately flipped a Garter under a rotting railroad tie. While I was carrying him out to the path to try for a fake in situ shot, I heard Andrea fall behind me. I asked if she was OK, but she had lunged for a second Garter so we settled for a twofer hand shot!

This place is ridiculous... we flipped many Garters and they were sliding away left and right. Here are a couple that we caught for pictures.

Not worried about missing any (because they were so plentiful) we just settled for flipping tarp and the "low hanging fruit" rocks. And trying to photograph them as we see them. Here's how that worked out...

The only other herps we saw were two flipped Redbacks.

I added Mammal #7 with this Eastern Chipmunk.
Eastern Chipmunk mammal #7

Heading back, we flipped this ornery guy...

And then, to top it off, we gathered up a proper Mother's Day bouquet for Andrea.

The place is so amazing. We plan on taking more trips out there, not just for the multitude of Garters (we saw twice as many as we got photos of) but for the turtles, frogs and Water Snakes that are surely there. We saw some of them last year but we need to spend a whole day there. Excellent birding is present too.

So that was our Mother's Day. Not exactly as planned but wonderful none the less.

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